Could Scott Derrickson‘s upcoming adaptation of Milton’s Paradise Lost be shot in 3D? Perhaps so, the director told Rotten Tomatoes recently. “I’m already a believer in the 3D technology after seeing U2-3D; I was blown away by it,” Derrickson told us. “I was really struck by the cinematic possibilities of it for storytelling. It’s a change of the basic nature of the experience of cinema because the best way to see it is to view it large screen, IMAX, where there is no frame. It’s not something you watch, it’s something you’re in, and that fundamental difference, and the impact it can have on storytelling, it’s unfathomable. The story of Paradise Lost really lends itself to that experience.”
The epic poem, published in 1667, describes the temptation of Adam and Eve by Lucifer and their expulsion from Eden. Its imagery has inspired artists like Dali and writers like William Blake, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien and Mary Shelley. Quotations have been featured in movies like Se7en and The Crow and the character of Satan in the poem has been said to have influenced the character of Darth Vader in Star Wars.
“Milton’s great literary legacy was that he created the first antihero in Lucifer and he’s not the villain in Paradise Lost,” he explained. “He’s really the one that you’re tracking the story with and his initial discontent is very understandable and sympathetic. He makes choices and continues to make choices and I’m really interested in a movie that’s a real Litmus test as far as at what point you jump off supporting him. I think everyone will be on his side at the beginning, because he was an absolutely devoted servant of God to begin with, but at one point you stop being on his side is fascinating to me.”
The film is being produced in association with Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures who recently brought to screen 300, The Dark Knight and Superman Returns, and so know all about projects of epic visual scope.
But, Derrickson says, he’ll be starting from scratch when it comes to the film’s visual style, preferring to craft his own vision of the poem’s settings and characters and not rely on generations of art that’s been inspired by the poem. “I think it’s a story that needs an originality of vision to work as a modern movie,” he said, “and there are just so many interesting ideas and it’s so visual; fighting and fallen angels.”
Derrickson said that his interest in 3D for the film had been stoked recently by his time on the set of Avatar with James Cameron. “I went to the set and visited Cameron there and he was really generous with his time with me. It’s James Cameron and he’s making Avatar, I was just privileged to walk through the door, but he really took time to talk to me about The Day the Earth Stood Still and took time to walk me through the technology and I really saw how it works in production.
“Now that I’m doing Paradise Lost I emailed his producer, Jon Landau, and asked if I could see a few minutes, so I’m going to see a few minutes of finished film. I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.”
For Derrickson, it was Cameron’s reasons for using the technology that convinced him about Avatar’s ambition. “When I met Cameron on set I asked, ‘Why have you spent so much time creating and perfecting the technology?’ He pointed to a script and he said, ‘The story.’ It was the perfect answer, and it was clearly what he believed. He had a story he didn’t think could be told any other way.”
Paradise Lost is in pre-production now and should be on screens in a couple of years. We’ll bring you more news as and when we get it. Derrickson’s latest film, The Day the Earth Stood Still, is out today — check out his visual companion to the movie here.